Local activists and political organizers gathered in front of the Elgin City Hall last Friday at noon to show a united front against racism and antisemitism in the United States in the wake of the horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia. An estimated 100 community members attended the rally, which was organized by local activist Danise Habun, who has put together liberal and progressive events in the past. People from all walks of life and from most marginalized communities came to let their voices be heard. Groups in attendance included Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and Black Lives Matter.
Speakers at the demonstration included city mayor Dave Kaptain, Illinois state representative Anna Mueller, and Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein. The rally focused on the responsibility that everyday citizens have in the prevention of racism. As Representative Mueller stated: “We can’t change the past, but… we can learn from the failure to act when you are not an immediate target.”
Pamphlets were distributed with a pledge to stand up against hate and to stand up for respect. Near the end of the rally, Rabbi Klein held a moment of silence in memory of the lives lost in Charlottesville during last weekend’s protests about the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.
Elgin serves as a microcosm for the nation. With 43.6% of the population being Hispanic, according to the 2010 census, the diversity and activism within the suburb shows what is capable on the larger scale for the US. As similar protests continue across the country, the gravity of what occurred in Charlottesville continues to be amplified.
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